How to Contact a Senator

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by dajolley, Oct 30, 2012.

  1. dajolley

    dajolley Newbie

    Hi, I have been following this forum for several months and have found it extremely helpful in working through the AA application process. It has now been 8 months since my 86 year old mother’s AA application was submitted to the Philadelphia office and as of yesterday. It is still in the “development stage”. Each time I call for an update, I get a estimated time frame for the development stage at that location and it is always less than the number of days they say it should take. The rep I spoke to yesterday said his mothers has been in development stage for two years!
    I want to contact her Senator in Florida and have a few questions. There is a Republican and Democrat Senator, does it matter which one I contact? Is there a special form I need to complete or do I just send an email to them?
    The VA has made one mistake after another since getting this application. First, they misplaced the 3rd party release form and I had to fax them a replacement. Then 3 months into the process they sent an inquiry letter to my mother but sent it to the wrong address. As a result, she didn’t get the letter for almost two months and that was only because I had called for a status update and the rep mentioned having sent this letter. That’s when I found that they had entered the wrong address from the application. They didn’t send her any written affirmation of having received the application until 6 months had passed, and that was a form apology letter regarding the length of time it was taking to process her application. Even though I requested expedited processing because of her age, decling her and running out of money, it had no impact. In fact when I questioned why it wasn't being expedited, I was told that the latest guideline for special processing is age 90.
    Thank you
  2. Max

    Max Hero Member

    <quote>I was told that the latest guideline for special processing is age 90.</quote>

    This is technically correct, but when you think about it, just about everyone is over 90. To have served in WWII, you would have to be at least 85 or so. The vast majority of WWII veterans and widows are in their 90's now. VA can't expedite every case (by definition, expediting a case means having one case worked before another one that has been waiting longer).

    Truth be told, there are about 100 people processing widows claims with about 45,000 claims pending (not to mention another 500-750 coming in every day). I don't think they've dropped the ball here, instead its much more likely that there's just too much work and not enough people.
  3. newpenny

    newpenny Jr. Member

    I agree
  4. dajolley

    dajolley Newbie

    Can someone just answer my question about how to contact a Senator?
  5. Max

    Max Hero Member

    You write them a letter. Or call them. In either case, as a former congressional liaison for VA, I can attest to my previous point as being accurate.
  6. dajolley

    dajolley Newbie

    I don't understand your negativity about my post. This site advises requesting expedited processing of applications for those over age 70 and regularly suggests contacting the applicants congressman when claims processing exceeds 6-8 months, that's all I'm doing. The fact that the VA is understaffed is no excuse for misplacing documents, entering wrong information, failing to return calls and providing misinformation is a sad state of affairs and an extremely poor way to treat those that served their country. You seem to accept the fact that that's just the way it is, I expect more from our government agencies.
  7. Max

    Max Hero Member

    I'm not trying to be negative, but it doesn't seem like you really understand the circumstances. The site might advocate those procedures, but that doesn't necessarily make them right.

    Everyone is over 70, so requesting expedited action based on that isn't going to accomplish anything except that it requires someone to look at your request, call you back, and have a conversation on the phone about how long everything is taking. Same deal with the 6-8 month thing. VA's current average for widow claims is 10.5 months, so you're just asking for your case to be pushed ahead of other people who have been waiting longer.

    I'll be the first to admit that VA can do better with what they have, but I would also point out that they cannot meet your expectations with their current resources.

    Good example, if there are only 5 public contact representatives in a pension center and 5000 calls to return with 150 more coming in every day, what do you expect them to do? They can't hire more people because congress won't let them. The only options are to either:

    A. Take forever to get back to people
    B. Not return their calls
    C. Reassign people from claims processing to returning calls (obviously the worst option since it reduces the actual output on claims)

    In terms of things being lost, if you have 20 people in a mail room and 40,000 pieces of mail arriving every day, how would you suggest they make sure that every piece of mail is routed perfectly every day. Again, they can't hire more people, so what ends up happening is that the mail builds up and it takes 3 weeks to show up in any of the systems.

    I'm really not trying to be negative, but I am trying to point out that contacting a congressman only puts a larger burden on VA to not only finish your claim (which they were going to do anyway once it was your turn) but also respond and track the congressional inquiry. It might not seem like a lot of extra work, but when you consider that each pension center has an average of 4 congressional liaisons and that all of those liaisons are trained in claims processing, they could be much more effectively used by processing claims. In fact, just letting those 12 people process claims would lead to roughly 7,000 more claims processed each year.

    My point is that it would be great if they had the resources to have better customer service, but they don't. And unless congress gives them those resources, I'm of the opinion that they should use the resources they have to process as many claims as possible.
  8. maralina1

    maralina1 Full Member

    Dajolley, I suggest that you contact your senator or congressman right away. Eight months is plenty of time to process the claim. I believe the VA will delay the claim as long as possible if you let them. We contacted our congressman when we had issues with the VA. Their office was more than helpful. Just call them.
  9. suse

    suse Jr. Member

    I'm sorry but this sounds like "if nothing changes, then nothing changes". So we continue accepting unacceptable time frames. Perhaps if at 8 months when enough congressmen are contacted, they may come to the seemingly incomprehensible conclusion that more help is needed. To do nothing but follow like robots or sheep is not the answer. This is my opinion so take what you like & leave the rest.

  10. Marp

    Marp Jr. Member

    Hear! Hear!

    The VA may be a mess, but I don't think we should be telling people to sit down and be quiet; we ought to be encouraging them to contact their elected representatives when something is horribly awry. Federal bureaucracies, such as the VA, are subject to Congressional oversight, but our congresspeople and our senators can't exercise that oversight properly if they don't know what's going on. Thus, it's important that we speak up so they can be aware and possibly work on changes that will improve the situation.

    Also, if the VA loses your paperwork, you'll never get your turn if you just sit down and be quiet. The only way to know the VA has lost paperwork is to speak up and ask about the status of a claim; sitting down and being quiet will just leave the paperwork lost and the veteran never gets the benefits.

    So, I say we should contact our elected representatives (after, of course, being reasonable about how quickly something gets done).

    Finally, VA reps I've worked with say the VA HAS hired additional staff so I would expect to see better service in the future (once the new staff are trained).

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